K'taka ruling allies seek 2 days more for floor test (Night Lead)
Bengaluru, July 22 (IANS) Karnataka's beleaguered ruling Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) and Congress members on Monday beseeched state Assembly Speaker K.R. Ramesh Kumar to grant two more days for the floor test on the confidence motion their Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy moved on July 18 to prove majority in the House.
"In view of the changed circumstances since July 19 and a few petitions pending or coming up in the Supreme Court on Tuesday for hearing and ruling on issues pertaining to the state and the prevailing political crisis, we request you to defer the floor test to Wednesday," Kumaraswamy told the Speaker.
Admitting that Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Siddaramaiah and he had assured the House on Friday of completing the debate for the floor test, the Chief Minister alleged that a fake resignation letter with his forged signature and address to state Governor Vajubhai Vala was being circulated in the social media like Whatsapp, Twitter and Facebook since late evening when he was in the Assembly.
"I don't know who is so desperate for my resignation that a fake letter was prepared with my forged signature and shared in the social media. It also made it to the print and electronic media, which brought it to my office's notice. This mischief needs to be investigated to find who all are behind this," Kumaraswamy told the Speaker in Kannada.
When the Speaker threatened to resign if the ruling allies disrupted the session and delayed the floor test, opposition BJP leader B.S. Yeddyurappa urged him not to postpone the floor test, which he assured the House on Friday to conduct on Monday without fail.
"Though you wanted to conduct the floor test on Friday itself, you have re-scheduled it for Monday on the assurance of Kumaraswamy and Siddaramiah as leaders of the ruling coalition parties that it would be held by the end of the day. We abided by your decision as responsible members of the House. Hence, direct the chief minister to put his motion for division of votes after the debate if it has to be even after midnight," asserted Yeddyurappa.
Reiterating his decision to hold the floor test by Monday night, the Speaker told Kumaraswamy that he was not concerned with the petitions pending before the Supreme Court even if they pertain to the Assembly and the trust vote as it (top court) had entrusted him with additional responsibility to discharge his duties free and fairly in accordance with the powers and laws in the Constitution.
"As I have given word to the BJP and to the people of the state, watching the Assembly proceedings on news channels live across the state/country, do not embarrass me by asking to postpone the floor test for reasons may be convenient to you but not me and the opposition party. I am only an empire and don't take decisions which are favourable to the treasury and unpleasant to opposition members," reiterated Kumar.
Congress state president Dinesh Gundu Rao said the top court has listed for hearing on Tuesday the petitions filed by his party, JD-S, Chief Minister and two Independents on issues pertaining to the coalition government, the trust vote, the July 17 interim order of the three-judge bench, saying the 15 rebel legislators who resigned cannot be compelled to attend the session for the floor test and the Governor's three messages to the Chief Minister to prove his majority on July 17 and July 18.
Pandemonium prevailed in the House for over an hour in the House as the ruling members staged protest against the BJP and the rebels who resigned and have been staying away from the Assembly despite the party issuing whip to attend the session.
Facing imminent defeat in the Assembly and fall of their 14-month shaky coalition government, the beleaguered allies have defied the three deadlines the Governor had set for Kumaraswamy to prove majority on July 18 and July 19, saying their members had to speak on the motion and the Chief Minister had to reply to the charges the BJP would level against them.
With the 15 rebels, including 12 of the Congress and 3 of the JD-S deciding not to attend the session and two Congress legislators (B. Nagendra and Srimant Patil) admitted in Bengaluru and Mumbai private hospitals, the strength of the allies in the House was 99 (65 out of 79 of the Congress plus 34 out of 37 of the JD-S), including the Speaker (from Congress) in the 225-member Assembly.
With the two Independents supporting the BJP, which has 105 legislators, 107 votes will be against the motion in the division of votes vis-a-vis 100 of the ruling combine, including one from its ally Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), whose member N. Mahesh was absent from the Assembly on July 18-19 when the debate on the trust vote took place.
"The voting takes place on the basis of the members present in the House. But with only 100 members on his side, Kumaraswamy will inevitably face defeat when the motion will be put to vote, as the new halfway mark will be 105 out of 208 (225-17)," BJP spokesman G. Madhusudana told IANS here.